Autorickshaw drivers in Bengaluru are on strike on Monday to protest against bike taxi services operating in the city. The Bengaluru Auto Drivers Unions' Federation say Rapido and other such bike taxi services are operating "illegally" in the city. Over two lakh autorickshaws are expected to be off the roads till midnight during the one-day strike. The autorickshaw drivers will also take out a march from Bengaluru City Railway Station to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai's house. The unions have long been demanding a ban on bike taxis claiming they jeopardise the livelihoods of auto drivers.
"We will observe a 24-hour strike starting from Sunday midnight. Our agitation is against the illegal operation of bike taxis operating in the city," Adarsh Auto and Taxi Drivers' Union president M Manjunath said. The union has one of the largest membership of autorickshaw drivers in Karnataka's state capital.
He claimed the state transport department views bike taxis as illegal but their drivers still operate on the city roads with impunity.
Mr Manjunath also said that 21 autorickshaw drivers' associations have come together against the bike taxis.
People living in Bengaluru, meanwhile, said that autorickshaw drivers are charging exorbitant rates for short distances due to the strike and even slammed the move.
"Autos plying in residential areas with 6 passengers packed. Saw in Vijaya Bank Layout. Charging 200 for single passenger for 3kms. Criminal extortion. What kind of strike is this?" asked one Twitter user.
"And in Koramangala today all the autos are on strike, not plying anywhere. Union people all around," said another.
Recently, a video had gone viral of an autorickshaw driver smashing a bike taxi driver's mobile phone at a major intersection in the city over the alleged illegal use of such services, as per a PTI report.
Autorickshaw drivers and bike taxis have been competing for space on Bengaluru's roads to gain customers.
The bike taxi services in Bengaluru are allowed under the Karnataka Electric Bike Taxi Scheme 2021, which was started to enhance first- and last-mile connectivity, promote environment-friendly transport solutions and ease urban mobility.